Spencer school board members voted Tuesday night to offer an early-retirement incentive to eligible staff members.
The offer is being extended to certified teaching staff. Those deemed eligible to participate in the 2012 early-retirement program will have 10 years of continuous service with the Spencer Community School District and reach the age of 55 prior to June 30, 2012.
Eligible retirees include: Janice Hopkins, Katie Plucker, Susan Nothwehr, Jan Myers, Cindy Davis, Gary Rustwick, Steve Bomgaars, Eileen Gengler, Onalee Wright, Patricia Campbell, Diane Maisenbach, Frank Boever, Douglas Siepkes, Denise Reit, Scott Rettey, Pam Haak, Bob Haak, Deb Kaus, Myrna Edmonds, Don Martindale, Deb Kimbell, Roger Johnson and Beth Snow-Ketchum.
The benefit for electing to participate in the district's early-retirement program will be five years of single health insurance coverage at the level the district provides certified employees, with a maximum amount of $10,000 per year. Retirees choosing to not receive this coverage will receive the equivalent cash in one annual payment, either in November or April.
Participants would submit an application with resignation, signed waiver and release form, and a covenant not to reapply with the district.
Retirees have until Friday, Feb. 3, to file their written elections. Board action on the applications is anticipated during an ensuing February 2012 monthly meeting.
The question of whether this will remain an annual offering by the district is expected to be discussed by board members over the next few months.
During further discussion, board members Bob Whittenburg and Dean Mechler considered whether the district's early-retirement policy should be viewed as a reward for years of service or as a method of dealing with budgetary issues.
"To me, it's a budget tool," Whittenburg said. "If it wasn't a budget tool, I wouldn't be voting for it."
"Me either," Mechler added. " ... My concern is around the perceived fairness, or lack of fairness, in the way we do early retirements. We're not going to solve that issue tonight, but I do want to have this discussion and start thinking about is the staff on the same page with the board. I think they understand we do it for budgetary reasons, but it's become something they expect every year."
Mechler suggested the board, during a future work session, remove its current written policy, which was approved in December 2008, and not offer another early-retirement incentive until the board deems it necessary.
"The first teachers who took advantage of some of the earlier opportunities offered are now starting to rotate out of the program. So, those (management) funds are freed up now to continue an enhanced early-retirement opportunity," he said. "By having to vote on this every year -- and we do have teachers sitting here checking to see which way the wind is blowing today -- I'm not sure that's to their benefit or, frankly, I'm not sure it's to our benefit. Like I said before, I can paint a picture that says we shouldn't be offering enhanced early-retirement as often as we do, or maybe this needs to become our new policy, period."
･ Doug Conard, construction supervisor/liaison, offered an update on construction of the sixth-grade pod at Spencer Middle School.
He explained the main floor was completed Tuesday. The storm sewer, water and regular sewer lines will be hooked up within the next week and the addition's exterior bricking, which wasn't supposed to happen until spring, is completed on the west, south and east walls, Conard said. He forecast completion of the pod's south and west entrances within the next two weeks, as well as fire, Internet and phone line connections during the Christmas break. Interior wall construction will begin Jan. 9, if not before.
･ Barb Besch, Spencer's director of school improvement, led a discussion in which the board ultimately approved an at-risk allowable growth plan for 2012-13. Similar to this school year's plan, it covers the areas of academic interventions, at-risk support services, the alternative program and the at-risk transitional program. The 2012-13 at-risk program budget is estimated to be $744,810, one-quarter of which comes from the district's general budget.
"We do have a lot more at-risk kids than we're actually allowed to count," Besch said. "They want at-risk counts to be between 5 and 8 percent. Here, it's 158 kids -- and there are more (K-12) kids than that who are actually at-risk and receiving intervention services."
･ The board learned the district had a $636,746 deficit in special education. Board members approved making a request for $511,698 in additional spending authority, in the form of modified allowable growth, to the School Budget Review Committee for the 2010-11 deficit.
･ Steph Anderson, the district's early childhood administrator, received a round of applause for her update on the recent preschool site visit, which netted the district a 100 percent verification.
|School year||Early-retirement incentive offered||Number of participants|
|2003-04||Difference between salary and beginning teacher's salary multiplied by a percent for years of service and used for insurance||6|
|2004-05||30 percent of salary stipend and single health insurance until age 65||13|
|2005-06||30 percent of salary to apply to insurance or 403(b) plan||0|
|2006-07||30 percent of salary to apply to insurance or 403(b) plan||0|
|2007-08||30 percent of salary to apply to insurance or 403(b) plan||9|
|2008-09||37.5 percent of salary to apply to insurance or 403(b) plan||5|
|2009-10||30 percent of salary as stipend and maximum of seven years single health insurance||12|
|2010-11||Five years of single health insurance||5|
|2011-12||Five years of single health insurance||To be determined by Feb. 3, 2012|